Sie sind auf Seite 1von 18

PDF processed with CutePDF evaluation edition www.CutePDF.

com
PDF processed with CutePDF evaluation edition www.CutePDF.com
SIEGE AT JADOTVILLE
Declan Power

PDF processed with CutePDF evaluation edition www.CutePDF.com


The first edition of this book was published in 2005
Second edition published in 2009
by Maverick House Publishers, Office 19, Dunboyne Business
Park, Dunboyne, Co. Meath, Ireland

www.maverickhouse.com
email: info@maverickhouse.com

ISBN 0-9548707-1-9

Copyright for text © Declan Power, 2005


Copyright for type setting, editing, layout, design
© Maverick House Publishers

5432

The paper used in this book comes from wood pulp of managed
forests. For every tree felled, at least one tree is planted, thereby
renewing natural resources.

The moral rights of the author have been asserted.


All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any


form or by any means without written permission from the
publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages
in connection with a review written for insertion in a newspaper,
magazine or broadcast.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British
Library.
DEDICATION
To my parents, Maura and Anthony Power, for their
patience and guidance.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

BOOKS CAN ONLY be possible through provision of in-


formation. That information must flow to the author
through a conduit, and these conduits are more com-
monly known as people. It was through a conversation
with a now retired soldier, Cpl Tony McAnaney of the
4th Field Artillery Regiment (FAR), whose father, John,
served at Jadotville, that I was introduced to this story.
My service in the Army, both regular and reserve,
between the late eighties and 1999 introduced me to
a variety of characters, particularly in the 9th and 4th
FAR, who inculcated in me a love of our more recent
military history. The foundations laid then were also the
foundations for this book.
However, this book was only made possible by the
co-operation of a number of the veterans of A Company,
35th Battalion—the men of Jadotville.
In particular I would like to express my thanks to John
Gorman from Horseleap in Moate, Co. Westmeath,
who was so generous with his time and his opinions
of the Jadotville period. I am grateful for access to his
private papers and photos which have assisted me in
writing this book.
Although only a young soldier at the time, John
never forgot his comrades and has been to the fore in
lobbying the government for some form of recognition
for his comrades and their families. John was also a
very helpful link man who put me in touch with other

5
veterans whose information played a pivotal role in this
book.
These men included retired BQMS Pat Neville.
Though well into his eighties, he was able to regale
me with stories about life in the Army during its infancy
in the 1930s. He painted a picture of a tough existence
that laid the foundation for the Army’s successes in the
Congo.
The personal diary of Walter Hegarty DSM, the
once-youthful platoon sergeant of No 2 Platoon, paints
a vivid picture of what the young soldiers of A Company
faced at Jadotville. In addition, he painstakingly copied
documents, letters and diaries as well as pictures for
inclusion in this book.
Walter was ever patient in explaining the lead up to
Jadotville from an infantry soldier’s viewpoint. Having
met him, it came as no surprise to learn that he was later
to be decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal
for displaying “outstanding leadership, resourcefulness
and courage” under enemy fire at a later date after
Jadotville.
Retired Capt Noel Carey, although typical of many
veterans who do not like to talk directly about their
role in action, was persuaded to give me unprecedented
access to his personal papers of the time.
I am deeply appreciative of this, for his commentary
is unguarded, candid and searingly honest about his
experience. His diary was also of considerable help in
establishing a narrative theme that ordered many of the
other anecdotal accounts I received from veterans.

6
Other veterans who helped by giving me their
reminiscences include the men of the Irish United
Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA), Post 20, in
Mullingar.
Men such as Sgt William (Bob) Allen retd (also later
to be decorated with the DSM), Sgt Bill Ready retd and
Gnr Tom Cunningham retd, spoke at length to me over
the years about their experience. I also owe my thanks
to former BQMS Eddie Robinson, for his assistance
with information and photographs at other times when
I was researching the Jadotville story.
Even though he wore no uniform, retired Irish Times
journalist Cathal O’Shannon can rightly be described as
a veteran of the Congo. I thank him now for taking
the time to talk to me as we approached Christmas
even though he was recovering from jet lag and recent
illness. Although not present at Jadotville, he reported
extensively from the Congo and his anecdotes from this
time helped put a number of things in context.
Of course, there are other people who probably
aren’t even aware of the role they played in bringing this
project to fruition, and of course some who undoubtedly
are more than aware.
My parents, Maura and Anthony Power, showed a
decidedly greater enthusiasm for the project than I was
feeling myself at times. Their foresight in hunting me out
of the comfort of the family home post- Christmas and
making me go back to work in Dublin is appreciated,
I think!
My former and last commanding officer from army
days, Comdt Eoghan Ó Neachtain retd, is a man whose

7
friendship, direction and mentoring has had no small
effect on my life. He surely gave me the best advice in
completing this project as I tended towards wallowing
in research for far too long:
“Kill it, kill it now! Don’t let it drag on.”
Appropriate advice from a former artillery officer.
I would like to thank Commandants Victor Laing
and Pat Brennan as well as the non-commissioned staff
of Military Archives who were always willing to be of
assistance with documentation.
I would also like to thank the following for their
assistance: Ken Foxe, Cormac Bourke, Barry Owens,
Aidan Crawley and Ron Quinlan. Also Jean Harrington,
John Mooney and Alicia McAuley of Maverick House.
Thanks too to the others who helped but must stay
anonymous by nature of their appointments.

Declan Power. Dublin, March 2005.

8
CONTENTS

1 Siege at Jadotville 11
2 Prelude to a Fight 30
3 Send in the Irish 52
4 The Mercenary Equation 74
5 Deployment 91
6 A Rum Affair 107
7 Road to Jadotville 125
8 The Jadotville Jacks Dig In 149
9 The Lines of Battle 166
10 Bombardment 179
11 War of Attrition 192
12 Force Kane at Lufira 215
13 Cease-fire and Captivity 224
14 Aftermath and Payback 255
A Company Roll 275
Summary of Important Dates 281
Glossary of Terms 283
List of Sources 291
Index 295
1
SIEGE AT JADOTVILLE
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love.
William Butler Yeats, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

THE CRY WENT up, “Le majeur irlandais!” and the


crowd surged forward, straining to grasp the hand of
the Irish officer as he attempted to enter the small bar
in Jadotville town.
As the officer entered the bar, a command rang out
and the assembled mercenaries snapped to attention.
Commandant Pat Quinlan (42), the commanding
officer of A Company, part of the 35th Irish Battalion of
the UN forces, must have found the scene quite ironic.
These respectful men, braced with their stomachs in
and chests out, had been locked in mortal combat with
Quinlan’s men only 24 hours previously.
Both sides were now applying a cease-fire and Quinlan
had gone into town to buy some beer for his troops who
were parched. No other liquid was available.
“C’est la guerre,” Quinlan mused to himself, if indeed
“war” was the correct term that could be applied to the
bizarre conflict that he and his men had been sucked
into.
Here he was, buying beer in a bar filled with men
who had been trying to kill him and his troops only 24

11
SIEGE AT JADOTVILLE

hours beforehand. A lean man with a soldierly frame,


Quinlan steadily elbowed his way toward the bar.
With his mouth firmly clenched and his eyes
unblinking under his shaggy brows, he returned the
gaze of each and every mercenary who tried to stare him
down.
Following closely behind him was Warrant Officer
Eric Thors, a Swedish helicopter pilot, who had assisted
in flying the ill-fated and only attempt the UN made to
re-supply Quinlan’s besieged troops.
Despite the praise being lavished upon him,
Quinlan was acutely aware that it was his troops who
had accounted for the deaths of many messmates of the
mercenaries ranged around him.
Some of the mercs, as the Irish soldiers called them,
even came forward proudly to show off the wounds
they had acquired. Quinlan nodded his appreciation,
no doubt noting with satisfaction the marksmanship
of his previously un-bloodied teenage troops. Being a
Kerryman, Quinlan was now demonstrating that mix
of stoicism and sharpness his countymen are famed
for. The local police guards were keen for Quinlan to
leave before the mercs began to feel maudlin about their
fallen comrades.
But Quinlan was damned if he was going back to
his lads empty-handed. He’d promised them beer and
beer they’d get. It wasn’t just as a reward for holding
their ground in the face of overwhelming odds. The
plain truth of it was that the water had been cut off, and
what had been saved was beyond stagnant in the harsh
African heat. A crate of minerals had been delivered

12
SIEGE AT JADOTVILLE

after the cease-fire. But it was no substitute for turning


the water back on so his men could wash and slake their
thirst. After all, they had been fighting in slit trenches
for the last week. Following four days of intense combat
that had included being strafed by a jet, Quinlan and
his men were still in their positions when the Katangan
gendarmes sought a cease-fire.
“We fought them to a standstill. If only the bloody
relief column could have made it across Lufira Bridge,
we’d be drinking those beers back in Elisabethville,”
Quinlan thought.
With his blue UN beret clamped on his head, and
armed only with the natural authority of the career
officer, Quinlan saw the assembled ranks of mercs
part as he finally got to the bar and ordered his beer.
As he was leaving the bar with his police escort a voice
enquired, “Mon commandant, ’ow many men ’ave you
lost?” Quinlan drew his hand across his moustache and
eyed the French merc. “None,” he replied, and strode
smartly into the night.
“Non! C’est incroyable! Ce n’est pas possible!” the
mercs mumbled among themselves. After all, hadn’t
they thrown everything they had against these peasant
Irish? Hadn’t they been strafing them with a jet each
day of the campaign? Hadn’t the pilot radioed them to
tell them of the line up of bodies behind the trenches
covered in sheets?
More to the point, hadn’t they themselves lost over
300 men? Le majeur irlandais, he was mad, or bluffing
. . . or both! In fact, Quinlan was neither. His journey
into Jadotville had been quite calculated. Having had

13
SIEGE AT JADOTVILLE

to fight with the absolute minimum number needed


for such a defensive operation, and having received
only one attempt at re-supply, Quinlan was aware his
men were starving and exhausted. As he recorded in his
own account of the battle (which had been previously
classified):
“Many of the men have lost considerable weight
and suffered from lack of sleep. Our only food now was
some biscuits, and we had absolutely no water whatever.
At approx 1400 hrs [I] insisted on going to Jadotville
town on the pretext of buying some beer for the men.
“My real reason was to get the feel and attitude of the
people. I asked two policemen to accompany me and I
took Warrant Officer Eric Thors (Swedish copilot of the
helicopter) as interpreter.
“I drove through the town. It was armed with several
hundred Gendermarie [sic] and armed civilians on the
streets. One group of civilians jeered us. The police
showed me a bar where I could get beer. I pulled the
car in and when I got out a murmur went through
the crowd.” It is apparent that even though he was
the senior officer of the Irish contingent fighting at
Jadotville, Quinlan was keenly aware that he lacked
the knowledge he needed to make informed decisions
about his plight.
However, he still had his tactical wits about him and,
although he had acceded to a cease-fire at the request of
the opposing forces, Quinlan knew that his company
was in a tactically perilous situation. Deployed to the
Congo with the 35th Battalion of the United Nations
Operation in the Congo (ONUC) to keep the peace

14
SIEGE AT JADOTVILLE

and enforce UN resolutions, Quinlan and his men


found themselves fighting a classic company-in-defence
action without the necessary weapons and tools to carry
out such a task.
The Irish troops were attending Mass parade behind
their positions when Katangan soldiers with their
European mercenary officers launched a sneak attack
on the morning of 13 September 1961. They were
repulsed thanks to the quick actions of a small number
of troops pulling sentry duty and the swift reaction of
the troops from Mass parade. The men of A Company,
though youthful and largely inexperienced, pulled well
together when battle was joined at Jadotville. Despite
the majority of the company being at Mass, a number
of sentries had been posted along the Irish positions.
At 0735 hrs, the enemy jeeps, equipped with mounted
machine-guns and clustered with troops, sped towards
the Irish positions. The Katangans were relaxed and in
jocular cowboy mode, sprawled across their vehicles and
toting their automatic weapons.
And why wouldn’t they be happy and feel confident?
Hadn’t their officers told them of les irlandais and their
constant need for speaking to their God? Wasn’t their fear
of the Black Warrior such that les irlandais were having
ceremonies with their ju-ju man every morning?
The poor fools wouldn’t even be manning any
defensive positions. It would be a rout, like shooting
fish in a barrel.
Indeed the Irish were at Mass parade that morning, as
they were most mornings, and this information on their
movements had been communicated to the mercenary

15
SIEGE AT JADOTVILLE

officers. Members of the white civilian community


around Jadotville were to play more than a bystander’s
role in the battle that unfolded. Sometimes this was
to the benefit of the Irish but, as the September morn
unfolded, this civilian input directly led to conflict. For
it was a Belgian settler who had tipped off the Katangan
forces about the Irish routine, and had advised an attack
when they were at their weakest.
The fact that it was a Mass parade also gave the
mercenary officers a psychological weapon with which
to motivate their native troops and give them confidence
of a quick, easy fight against a less confident adversary.
The psychological element was to play a leading part in
both the tactical and strategic nature of operations in
Katanga.

The Katangans now rushed forward, firing short bursts


from their jeeps in the hopes of killing or spooking
whichever Irishmen spotted them first.
However, their hopes of a quick kill were dashed
by a bit of Offaly flair and élan. Showing the same
selfpossession and calmness in adversity as his
countymen have often done on All-Ireland final days,
Sgt John Monaghan met the Katangans head on with a
burst of the finest Vickers machine-gun lead.
Monaghan was returning to his trench after shaving
when he spotted the swiftly approaching vehicles.
Realising an attack was under way, and with a minimum
of time to do all that must have rushed through his
head, Monaghan acted in the finest tradition of NCO
leadership.

16
SIEGE AT JADOTVILLE

Unlike the senior leadership on many UN operations,


or indeed the UN Security Council, Monaghan didn’t
mull over this dilemma for long. After all, he was
a professional soldier, not a politician or diplomat.
Shouting a warning to the few subordinate soldiers,
mostly young unseasoned midlands lads, still in his vest
with his shaving towel draped around his shoulders, he
vaulted across a nearby trench to get to his destination.
“The Vickers! I’ve got to get to the Vickers! If they
keep coming I’ll need its fire-power to pin them down
until the rest of the lads make it back from the Mass
parade.”
The Vickers was a water-cooled belt-fed machinegun
that had been used to devastating effect by the British
Army in the many theatres of WWII. It was one of the
few support-type weapon assets that A Company had at
its disposal during the battle. The few available Vickers
machine-guns were sited to cover any route of strategic
advance on the Irish positions.
By making the decision to man the gun and warn
the few sentries, Monaghan certainly gave his fellow
soldiers time to react and get to their positions. He also
gave his superiors time to adapt their plans of defence
to the rapidly unfolding drama that was developing that
sunny September morning.
For most, the mere fact that heavily armed forces
were advancing rapidly on their positions would have
constituted a hostile act. But showing true presence of
mind and a sense of mission, Monaghan did not open
fire until the Katangans had fired the first shots.

17